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Facing Your Fear of Marketing April 9, 2011

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Marketing Plan, marketing strategies, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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As a consultant to small and mid-sized businesses, I often speak to and work with companies that are run by CEOs who are the original founders of their company and typically the originator of the “product” offered by their firm. In most cases, the CEO is highly knowledgeable about the “product” and usually admits to a substantial lack of knowledge about the less industry-specific parts of their business.  Areas such as operations, marketing, accounting, HR, legal and more are beyond their experience – and typically their interest as well. In most cases, they’ve gone into business knowing that they would hire an attorney and an accountant to assist them, however with regard to the more ‘day-to-day’ functions of operations, marketing and HR they just figure it will all come together – sort of a “build it and they will come” mentality.

Nowhere is the “build it and they will come” mentality more obvious in these individuals than in the area of Marketing.  With rare exception, most of these business owners assume that everyone will see the value of their “product” as easily as they do, and that as soon as it becomes available they will be swamped with customers!  Then, before very long, reality begins to set in.

It’s typically not very long before the business owner begins to panic; ‘why can’t they see it?’, ‘why aren’t they buying?’ he or she begins to ask.  Then there is typically a period where they will spend money on any type of advertising that is thrown in front of them – and the media reps are happy, but the business isn’t becoming any more successful, and now they have a lot less money. 

Then comes the third stage, this is where they come to someone like me – the outside consultant, and they say, “fix this ASAP before I’m out of business! But by the way, I have very little money to pay you so you need to fix it this month because that’s all the money I have left. Oh, and I don’t want you to do ‘this’, and I do want you to include ‘this’, and make sure that you allocate budget for ‘this’ as well.  But other than that, do whatever you need to in order to fix it yesterday”.

Now don’t laugh because I promise you that right now some of you are reading this and seeing yourselves in this story!

So I thought it might be helpful to the small and mid-sized business owners out there to bring a fact to light if you haven’t already realized it – you have to gain enough knowledge to enable yourselves to comfortably wear the multiple hats of operations, marketing, accounting, legal, HR and every other aspect of your business – even if you have someone else performing those functions.  This is particularly important in the area of Marketing where it must be at the forefront of every decision you make for your business – or you won’t have a business.  In my experience, this becomes an area of tremendous fear for business owners; Marketing is definitely outside their comfort zone.  They ask questions like:

  • My radio/TV/newspaper/yellow pages (use your preference) rep said theirs is the only type of advertising I need, are they right?
  • How do I know how much money I need to spend?
  • How do I know what type of advertising is going to be interesting and get the attention of my potential customers?
  • Do I need to use Facebook?  Everyone is telling me I need to use Facebook!
  • and much, much more.

So the best answer is: 

  1. First, relax. 
  2. Second, FACE YOUR FEAR; don’t pretend that the need to Market your business doesn’t exist and hope it will go away.
  3. Third, start educating yourself about the types of marketing strategies available to you; what they cost, how they’re used, which types of potential customers they appeal to, etc.
  4. Fourth, do an analysis of your existing customer base and try to identify some key factors that your ‘best’ customers have in common and then plan to go in search of more just like them.
  5. Fifth, bring in an outside consultant.  It doesn’t have to be a long-term arrangement, just let them help you analyze your business, your customers, your market, and your industry and then develop a Marketing Plan for you based on their findings, your goals, and your budget – and then YOU implement the plan with your newly gained knowledge.

To help you gain clarity on the fact that you must be your company’s best marketer, I refer you to a recent article in the American Express Open Forum entitled, “Attention Small Businesses:  You’re ALL in the Marketing Business“.  This is an excellent article that will help you understand the importance of the company CEO having a strong level of involvement in Marketing on a daily basis.

Hopefully, you will all now FACE YOUR FEAR and become alot more involved in Marketing your business.

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.

Linda is a recognized small business marketing expert with 20+ years experience in a variety of industries and an award-winning blogger on such topics as marketing a small business, mobile marketing, social media marketing, and virtual events.

Linda is available for consultation and can be contacted at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com. The company website can be viewed at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.

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SGC Announces ‘Increase Your Revenue with Mobile Marketing’ FREE Webinar for Small Biz Owners August 3, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, Marketing-changing technology, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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Webinar to Provide Information About the Low-cost, High-return Marketing Medium and How Small Business Owners Can Take Advantage of This Emerging Technology to Promote Their Business and Increase Revenue

DETROIT, MI – Small business owners have the opportunity to learn the many benefits of using Mobile Technology to promote their business by attending a FREE webinar presented by Strategic Growth Concepts on Tuesday, August 10th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.  Those interested in learning more about this low-cost, high-return technology, and how they can use it to promote their companies, can follow this link to register for the webinar at the following link.

Read the complete News Release HERE.

Strategic Growth Concepts Makes Text Messaging Available to Small Businesses April 4, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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Mobile Marketing achieves exceptional ROI and generates substantial incremental revenue

Small business owners can now implement their own unlimited mobile advertising campaigns – within minutes – for as little as $25 per month, through a service now being offered by Strategic Growth Concepts.

As part of our continuing effort to provide our clients with the latest technologies available to enable their marketing efforts, Strategic Growth Concepts has become a Certified Mobile Solutions Provider with a national text marketing solution.

Now, businesses such as:

  • retail stores
  • restaurants/cafes/fast food retailers
  • health clubs
  • salons
  • physicians
  • dentists
  • veterinarians
  • consumer service businesses
  • nightclubs
  • realtors
  • banks
  • consumer media (radio/TV/newspaper)
  • B2B firms
  • and many more

can utilize mobile marketing campaigns to communicate with consumers about:

  • appointment reminders
  • cancellation notices
  • reservations
  • take-out orders
  • scheduling appointments
  • daily specials
  • inventory close-outs
  • special order arrivals
  • expected arrival times
  • event notices
  • information requests
  • contest entries
  • surveys
  • new product announcements
  • changes in operating hours
  • and much, much more!

We’re very happy to make this service available to small businesses so they can now take control of their marketing and get large results with a small monthly investment and very little time.   And, no contracts required!

Until April 15th, Strategic is offering a 50% discount to businesses that sign up to utilize our text messaging services.  To obtain a FREE mobile marketing demonstration and learn how your firm can receive a 50% discount on getting started, please read our complete news release.

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Should you be interested in learning more about mobile marketing and how it can help grow your business, please review the mobile section of our website, additional mobile marketing articles within this blog, or contact us directly via the website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com for a FREE initial consultation.

The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting and training firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized small business expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

3 Local Marketing Initiatives with Higher ROIs November 20, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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With most small businesses today seeking every low or no-cost marketing option they can find to promote their products and services, the publishers of this blog are constantly in search of information about new resources that can help.  As we have discussed in many previous articles, many Web 2.0 options abound to help businesses promote themselves, but most are unable to concentrate your firm’s efforts on your specific geographic area – at least not easily.  However, the following tools are ideal for promoting your business within your specific geographic region to insure that those potential customers closest to you are well aware of your existance and what you have to offer.

Take advantage of these tools that any small business can use to promote your business within your local community.

____________________________________________________________

Forget the Phonebook: 3 Local Marketing Initiatives with Higher ROIs

Gregory Go (Wise Bread), Nov 12, 2009 –

The phonebook is so 1998. Few people use it anymore, and yet in an ironic twist, advertising in the phonebook has become more expensive as telcos try to boost revenues. Don’t play their game.

Boost the ROI of your advertising budget by switching your local marketing focus to the following 3 websites.

The basic strategy for each of the following options is two-fold:

  1. The first step — making sure you are listed and have accurate info — is free for all three of the following sites. It’s equivalent to making sure your phone number and address is accurate in the free, basic listing in the phonebook.
 
  2. The second step — buying advertising — is equivalent to buying an ad in the phonebook. Versus the phonebook, you’ll get more reach and better tracking data, which helps ensure you maximize your local advertising ROI.

1. Yelp!

Yelp is the premier review site for local businesses. Consumers love it because it lets them easily share their thoughts on local service providers and retail outlets, and in return, get honest reviews of local businesses from their peers. Businesses love Yelp — honest, reputable businesses, at least — because businesses that receive positive reviews see dramatic increases in referral customers.

Start here.

Step 1: Control Your Listing (and Get Stats)

Yelp provides business owners that have “unlocked” their pages with lots of value-added features including messaging options (eg., post offers and announcements, reply to reviewers) and stats on how many people have viewed your business page. Check out this page for a screenshot of the business dashboard you’ll have access to as the owner of the business.

The biggest benefit of taking control of your Yelp page is being able to highlight positive reviews of your business and/or responding to reviewers privately.  However, don’t think that just because Yelp is willing to take your money that it means they will take down negative reviews of your business.  They won’t, unless it violates review guidelines (eg., contains racial slurs or is second-hand information).  As a good business owner, you should take comfort in this policy, because it means your less scrupulous competitors won’t be able to hide their shady practices for long.

Step 2: Buy Advertising

Yelp offers two advertising options for increasing your exposure:

  1. Top placement in search results.
  2. Showcasing your business on a similar business’ page.

You can see screenshots of both options here.  Pricing varies based on your city, business category, and number of impressions you want to buy.  You can talk details and pricing with a Yelp sales representative by filling out this form and waiting for a callback.

2. Google Local

Start here.

When consumers search for a local business or a local service (eg., “thai food”, “dry cleaner”) on Google, a small map and some business results appear at the top of the search results (screenshot).  Additionally, you get a business details page that can contain information like your phone number, email address, store hours, accepted payment types, photos and videos, and service or product categories (screenshot).

Step 1: Take Control of Your Listing (and Get Stats)

Adding business details and creating coupons is completely free on Google. Start by claiming your business at Google’s Local Business Center. Once you’ve verified your ownership, you can start adding details and creating coupons that will appear on your business details page.

Here’s where Google Local become more exciting than the phonebook. On your Google local business dashboard (screenshot), you can see what search phrases people are typing in to find your business and where those searchers are located on a map (abstracted to a zip code level to protect searchers’ privacy).

Click here for more information on Google’s Local Business Center features.

Step 2A: Buy AdWords Ads

AdWords is the program where advertisers bid on search keywords and have their links appear next to or on top of search results.  While the AdWords program is not specifically geared towards a local market, as an advertiser, you can limit where your ad appears based on the searcher’s location.

You buy AdWords ads by bidding on how much you’re willing to pay for clicks on your ad.  Your ads appear on search results for your targeted keywords (ie., phrases people type into the search box).  The more popular keywords (eg., “thai food”) will cost more per click than more obscure keywords (eg., “pad thai”).  

Balancing the cost per click versus the popularity (reach) of keywords is what makes AdWords advertising a bit tricky.  It does take quite a bit of management to maximize your ROI. Fortunately, Google allows you to set spending limits so you don’t blow your monthly budget, and offers plenty of tools and resources to help you manage your AdWords campaigns.

Managing an AdWords campaign is beyond the scope of this article, but here are some resources to get you started:

Step 2B: Buy Local Ad Listings

These are a new type of ads Google is selling specifically for local businesses.  They are currently available only in San Fransisco and San Diego.  To get a notice when they are rolled out to your area, fill out this form.

The difference between Local Ad Listings and AdWords is that you don’t have to bid for keywords or do any fancy campaign management.  Google charges a flat monthly rate for these ads, and shows them on local searches at the top of search results (screenshot) and in Google Maps (screenshot). 

The rate depends on your city and business category.  Rates are offered after you’ve claimed your small business listing in step 1.  Once you’ve claimed your local business and Google has rolled out these ads to your city, you will see a new “Ads” tab in your business dashboard.

An advantage of the Local Ad Listing — in addition to having your business appear prominently on related searches — is the call tracking.  When someone calls the phone number listed on your Local Ad Listing, the call is forwarded to regular phone number, and when you pick up, you will hear a short “this call is from Google” message. Counting up the number of calls you receive from your local Google ad, you can then determine if the monthly fee is worth the number of new leads you receive.

3. Yahoo Local

Start here.

Step 1: Claim or create your Yahoo Local listing

Just like Yelp and Google Local, you can claim your Yahoo Local business listing for free.  Claiming or creating the listing will allow you to enter additional information and keep your business details up-to-date.

The first step is to create a Yahoo login.  If you already have a Yahoo email address, you can use that login account to manage your local business listing.  If you already have a Yahoo account, login to your account.  If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a Yahoo account here (it’s free).

Start by doing a search for your business at Yahoo Local.  If your business already has a listing, click on the “edit info” link on the details page.  Your business will then be linked to your Yahoo account, and when you go to listings.local.yahoo.com, you can click on the “Local Listings Account Center” link in the upper right hand corner to see all your business listings.

If your business is not yet listed, go to listings.local.yahoo.com and click on the “Sign Up” button. You will be presented with a form to fill out your business details like address, phone number, service description, and hours of operation.

For more information about Yahoo Local Listings, check out the help page for Yahoo Local Listings or visit the start page for Yahoo Local Listings.

Step 2: Upgrade to an Enhanced or Featured Listing

And just like the other options, Yahoo offers premium listings that you can purchase to give your business more prominence.  Yahoo Local offers two levels of premium listings: Enhanced or Featured.

An Enhanced Listing costs $9.95 per month.  You get to add up to 10 photos, a longer description of your business, and stats on how often people see and click on your listing.

A Featured Listing puts your business in the sponsored results section of Yahoo search results.  Pricing ranges from $15-$300 per month depending on the size of your city and demand for your service.  Click here to view current pricing details.

Check out this page for a comparison of features for the Basic, Enhanced, and Featured Listings.

Do You Need Your Own Web TV Show? October 2, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Video Marketing, Web 2.0, Web TV.
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6 comments

In our quest to continually bring information to our readers on the latest technologies available to aid you in marketing your business, today we present  another idea that’s beginning to gain traction for small businesses.  Thanks to technology, anyone today can be a “TV star” by hosting your own online television show to promote your business – and, you may even be able to make money doing it!

Below is an article from Business Week which reviews this latest marketing ‘tool’ and talks to small business owners currently utilizing it to promote their firms.

___________________________________________________________

Independent Web shows can attract advertisers, sponsors, and thousands of viewers, but marketing and profiting from them is a challenge

By Karen E. Klein for Business Week Smart Answers, 9/29/09

Yana Berlin dabbed on a product sample for a new perfume and liked it O.K. But when her three grown daughters got a whiff, they had one reaction: “You smell like Grandma!”

“I don’t think the manufacturer is going to like it, because it’s being marketed to women over 40 and no one at 44 wants to smell like Grandma,” Berlin notes wryly.

In the past, the perfume company might not have gotten direct feedback from people like Berlin, a San Diego entrepreneur who founded the Fabulously40 social networking Web site. But that’s changed now that Berlin and her daughters, Daisy, Sasha, and Stephanie, have started a Web TV show called, The Love or Hate Debate. It features product reviews and demonstrations from two generations of women.

$20 Billion in Ads at Risk

Like growing numbers of entrepreneurs, Berlin and her family produce the show themselves, edit it, and post it online using free or low-cost video-uploading and streaming software. These Internet-based videos—most packaged in short episodes no more than four minutes long—have the potential to transform marketing and turn small business owners into celebrities in their own right, experts say.

“It’s a fascinating shift and one of the more important ones we’ve seen in B2B communications,” says Daniel Taylor, lead technology and media analyst at The Big Picture, a research firm covering digital media, technology, and communications.

If Internet video continues to catch on as a marketing alternative for small businesses, Taylor says, $20 to $30 billion in advertising that currently goes to the business and trade press could evaporate. Small firms that typically advertise in their industry trade publications, business publications, the Yellow Pages, and on cable television could shift their marketing dollars into producing their own video content. “About 10% of the overall advertising spending in the U.S. could be at risk because of this” new phenomenon, Taylor says. “It’s largely small to midsize businesses that are involved in this, and the caliber of people and the quality of what they’re doing is really amazing.”

Starting in a Garage

Take Andrew Lock, a marketing consultant and former U.K. television producer whose weekly show, Help! My Business Sucks! provides entrepreneurial advice and interviews and attracts corporate sponsors.

The 74-and-counting episodes of Lock’s show attract 100,000 viewers each, have helped boost his consulting business to five-figure monthly revenue and brought him speaking invitations around the world, he says. “I go to conferences where entrepreneurs line up and ask for my autograph,” Lock says. “And I’m just this little British guy living in Utah who started a show out of my garage!”

That show proved so popular, he says, that he built a studio facility near his home in Salt Lake City where he houses professional sets, six employees, and a host of additional presenters who tape their own shows there.

Production Quality Improving

While it’s still very early in the world of Web TV, Lock says, there are myriad shows springing up that cover niche topics like wine, gadgetry, and scrapbooking and are building loyal audiences. “These are real people, not Hollywood, air-brushed celebrities, and it seems viewers respond positively to that real-ness that is very different from traditional TV,” he says.

All of this, of course, is only possible due to technology updates that have taken place in the last three years, says Steven C. Hawley, principal analyst and consultant at tvstrategies, a telecommunications consulting firm in based in Seattle.

In the earliest years of Internet video, picture quality was low, frames were tiny, and the action dribbled out herky-jerky. But now, new technology platforms, such as Blip TV and Vimeo, have sprung up and are maturing so quickly it’s difficult to track them. “The number and type of are proliferating and changing constantly. Internet technology competes head-to-head with cable and satellite, and the availability of multiple platforms makes it possible for just about anybody to distribute content over broadband,” Hawley says. “In fact, I’ve thought of doing it myself as a consultant and an analyst.”

All You Need is $100

It is also nowhere near as expensive as it once was to produce and distribute PC-quality video content. “You can build an audience through social media and through your customer database and drive traffic to your own site. All it takes is $100 for a video camera and a mike. You set it up on a tripod, talk to it, and upload it,” Hawley says.

He sees most small business people using Internet shows to do self-publishing and self-promotion. But entrepreneurs are also infiltrating—if not dominating—the entertainment side of the Web TV experience.

Leyna Juliet Weber, a writer and actor, moved to Los Angeles from New York City a few years ago hoping to break into the big time. But she found that opportunities were few and far between. “The TV climate is really bad, so instead of just waiting around, I worked on some student films at USC and met a fantastic gal named Annie Lukowski,” Weber says.

Launched at Funny or Die

The two stayed in touch, and after Lukowski attended Weber’s live comedy show, they decided to collaborate. They formed a company called Working Bug Media and produced two shorts that they posted at FunnyorDie and YouTube (GOOG).

“We funded them ourselves on a dime budget,” Weber says. After the shorts were well-received, they decided to write and produce a 10-episode show called Road to the Altar. “It’s a wedding story shot as a mockumentary and told from the groom’s point of view,” Weber says. “We pitched it around town and to Web production companies, but everyone is afraid to put money into anything.”

Eventually, the pair negotiated a deal with a company called MWD Media. When Weber was able to get Jaleel White, who played Urkel on the 1990s TV show Family Matters, to star opposite her in the series, they attracted corporate sponsors including Panda Express and Pier 1 Imports. At least 40,000 people have viewed the series on YouTube alone, Weber says.

Old-Fashioned Show Sponsors

Still, although independent Web shows can attract advertisers, sponsors, and thousands of viewers, marketing and profiting from them is a challenge, says Joshua Cohen, the co-founder of Tilzy.tv, a Web site that chronicles and reviews episodic Web series.

The options for Internet video advertising include pre-roll, post-roll, and mid-roll ads as well as overlay ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen. Then there are old-fashioned show sponsors that hark back to the early days of television, when one company or specific product would fund a show and often get a plug by the host. “There are thousands of these shows being produced by major studios, TV networks, film students, and amateurs. It’s everything from NBC down to the most independent, bare-bones productions,” Cohen says.

Episodes typically run from three to five minutes, because most Internet shows are viewed at work. “Lunchtime is the new prime time for online viewing. Technology is being developed so you can watch the Internet on your big screen TV, but it hasn’t broken through yet, so most of the viewing is still happening on the PC at work,” Cohen says.

Trying to Monetize the Shows

While some firms predict that Internet advertising will reach $1 billion by 2011, Cohen says, online shows are not yet pulling dollars away from traditional television advertising. “People are still trying to figure things out online, where they’ve been making money off of TV for 50 years and they’ve gotten very good at it,” he says.

Lock says that while he has used his Web TV show to attract sponsors, increase his consulting profile, and boost his revenues, many Internet entrepreneurs are not as good at monetizing their efforts as he has been. “The show enables people to discover me and what I provide in a relaxed and informal setting. I don’t have to sell. If people respond to the messages in the show, they’ll come to me. I don’t have to do any cold-calling or any of that silly nonsense,” he says.

While many entrepreneurs love what they do, and enjoy producing their own shows, he believes that many of them could make more money at it if they did strategic marketing and advertising campaigns. “There are extremely popular shows that aren’t making any money at all, because they don’t know how to monetize it,” he says.

“A Slow Process”

Lock predicts, however, that advertisers will be increasingly willing to buy into Web TV series in the near future. “It’s a slow process, but it’s definitely happening. Advertisers are looking for other avenues with people tuning out of television, fast-forwarding through commercials or watching their shows on Hulu,” he says.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.

Virtual Events Episode of ‘Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business’ Now Available August 25, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Strategic Growth Concepts, Virtual Technology.
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BlogTalkRadio graphicToday’s epidose of ‘Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business’ focusing on Virtual Events for Small Business Lead Generation is now available for download by clicking HERE.

This episode contains excellent information regarding Virtual Events:

  • What are they?
  • How businesses are leveraging virtual events technology to stay in better contact with existing customers and obtain new ones
  • What steps should a small business take to get started with virtual events marketing?
  • What costs are involved in using virtual events, and is the technology something that small entrepreneurial companies can afford to use?
  • What skills are required to host a virtual event?
  • and much, much more!

Be sure to download this podcast if your firm is seeking efficient, cost-effective ways of growing your business – without ever leaving the premises!

Mom-and-Pop Businesses Succeed with Social Media July 26, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Strategic Growth Concepts, Twitter.
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By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Three weeks after Curtis Kimball opened his crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, he noticed a stranger among the friends in line for his desserts. How had the man discovered the cart? He had read about it on Twitter.
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Curtis Kimball, owner of a crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, uses Twitter to drive his customers to his changing location.

For Mr. Kimball, who conceded that he “hadn’t really understood the purpose of Twitter,” the beauty of digital word-of-mouth marketing was immediately clear. He signed up for an account and has more than 5,400 followers who wait for him to post the current location of his itinerant cart and list the flavors of the day, like lavender and orange creamsicle.

“I would love to say that I just had a really good idea and strategy, but Twitter has been pretty essential to my success,” he said. He has quit his day job as a carpenter to keep up with the demand.

Much has been made of how big companies like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast use Twitter to promote their products and answer customers’ questions. But today, small businesses outnumber the big ones on the free microblogging service, and in many ways, Twitter is an even more useful tool for them.

For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.

“We think of these social media tools as being in the realm of the sophisticated, multiplatform marketers like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, but a lot of these supersmall businesses are gravitating toward them because they are accessible, free and very simple,” said Greg Sterling, an analyst who studies the Internet’s influence on shopping and local businesses.

Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth, he said, and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.

Umi, a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, sometimes gets five new customers a night who learned about it on Twitter, said Shamus Booth, a co-owner.

He twitters about the fresh fish of the night — “The O-Toro (bluefin tuna belly) tonight is some of the most rich and buttery tuna I’ve had,” he recently wrote — and offers free seaweed salads to people who mention Twitter.

Twitter is not just for businesses that want to lure customers with mouth-watering descriptions of food. For Cynthia Sutton-Stolle, the co-owner of Silver Barn Antiques in tiny Columbus, Tex., Twitter has been a way to find both suppliers and customers nationwide.

Since she joined Twitter in February, she has connected with people making lamps and candles that she subsequently ordered for her shop and has sold a few thousand dollars of merchandise to people outside Columbus, including to a woman in New Jersey shopping for graduation gifts.

“We don’t even have our Web site done, and we weren’t even trying to start an e-commerce business,” Ms. Sutton-Stolle said. “Twitter has been a real valuable tool because it’s made us national instead of a little-bitty store in a little-bitty town.”

Scott Seaman of Blowing Rock, N.C., also uses Twitter to expand his customer base beyond his town of about 1,500 residents. Mr. Seaman is a partner at Christopher’s Wine and Cheese shop and owns a bed and breakfast in town. He sets up searches on TweetDeck, a Web application that helps people manage their Twitter messages, to start conversations with people talking about his town or the mountain nearby. One person he met on Twitter booked a room at his inn, and a woman in Dallas ordered sake from his shop.

The extra traffic has come despite his rarely pitching his own businesses on Twitter. “To me, that’s a turn-off,” he said. Instead of marketing to customers, small-business owners should use the same persona they have offline, he advised. “Be the small shopkeeper down the street that everyone knows by name.”

Chris Mann, the owner of Woodhouse Day Spa in Cincinnati, twitters about discounts for massages and manicures every Tuesday. Twitter beats e-mail promotions because he can send tweets from his phone in a meeting and “every single business sends out an e-mail,” he said.

Even if a shop’s customers are not on Twitter, the service can be useful for entrepreneurs, said Becky McCray, who runs a liquor store and cattle ranch in Oklahoma and publishes a blog called Small Biz Survival.

In towns like hers, with only 5,000 people, small-business owners can feel isolated, she said. But on Twitter, she has learned business tax tips from an accountant, marketing tips from a consultant in Tennessee and start-up tips from the founder of several tech companies.

Anamitra Banerji, who manages commercial products at Twitter, said that when he joined the company from Yahoo in March, “I thought this was a place where large businesses were. What I’m finding more and more, to my surprise every single day, is business of all kinds.”

Twitter, which does not yet make money, is now concentrating on teaching businesses how they can join and use it, Mr. Banerji said, and the company plans to publish case studies. He is also developing products that Twitter can sell to businesses of all sizes this year, including features to verify businesses’ accounts and analyze traffic to their Twitter profiles.

According to Mr. Banerji, small-business owners like Twitter because they can talk directly to customers in a way that they were able to do only in person before. “We’re finding the emotional distance between businesses and their customers is shortening quite a bit,” he said.

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If after completing this article you’re still not certain how Twitter can be utilized to market your company, we would be happy to assist you in developing a customized program to promote your business.  Please feel free to contact us via our website or via email at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Slick Uses for Mobile Marketing as Showcased by National Brands June 12, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in mobile, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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The Lion King musical production

Disney’s Tony Award-winning musical “The Lion King” at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas used mobile to drive ticket sales.

Commercial spots on the Cox Media cable network encouraged viewers to text the keywords NALA or MUFASA to short code 269411.  The Lion King and Mandalay Bay were able to build an opt-in database of locals interested in receiving promotions in the future.

The strategy was to generate buzz about the Lion King musical production at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, as well as drive traffic to the outdoor shopping mall – Town Square

Lion King Text Msg

Mobile was suitable for this campaign because it provided the ability to engage the target market, be the medium for the scavenger hunt and provide extremely detailed metrics from beginning to end.

 This particular campaign was unique, as it was a scavenger hunt utilizing the mobile device.

Consumers that texted in NALA or PUMBA got a message that said, “Find Lion King Paw Prints near Your next clue @ Whole Foods in Town Square. Address: 6689 Las Vegas Blvd.”

When the consumer reached the destination, they were asked to text LION to the same short code to get the next clue.

Respondents that used the keyword LION got a message that said, “Get “ON” Your way and “sea” the latest clothing styles at Your next clue in Town Square!”

Once consumers reached Town Square and found the next clue, they were instructed to text TIMON to the short code.

In return they got a message that said, “It’s a walk in the “park” to a Tropical Time with “Tommy” for Your Final Clue in Town Square!”

The last and final keyword was MUFASA. Once consumers texted this keyword in the got a message that said, “Congrat’s! You finished the hunt! Winners will be contacted on 5/7/09.”

The double opt-in was then sent, asking consumers to reply YES for ten entries to win a $100 Whole Foods Gift Card and to subscribe to Cox exclusives.

“The goals of this campaign posed a unique set of challenges, and the mobile channel provided the ideal measurable solution,” said Isaac Naor, client services manager. “It allowed enough creativity to drive locals to the new [high-end] outdoor mall, provided engagement with the brand, and enabled the campaign to stand-out and become viral.”

 

Safeway / Randalls

Safeway - Randalls

Safeway’s Randalls Food Market has launched a mobile coupon program to help its customers save time, money and trees.

These days, money is tight and people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars, so Randalls is letting customers download manufacturer’s coupons onto their Remarkable Card. The Remarkable Card is Randalls’ loyalty card.

Shoppers can get discounts from brands and select Randalls-labeled products.

This opportunity is available at 14 Randalls stores in Austin, TX, 36 stores throughout the greater Houston area and 62 in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

To sign up to get coupons in the first place, Randalls shoppers just need to visit the mobile providers Web site to activate their account.

Digital coupons mean that no paper is used to distribute and redeem coupons.  “Eliminating paper from couponing not only saves forests, but also benefits the environment by reducing the water usage to produce the paper and ink, as well as the energy to move the paper out to homes and newspaper stands.  “So mobile and digital coupons are environmentally friendly and have virtually no carbon footprint themselves”.

No more searching for coupons in newspapers and magazines, coupon cutting, or riffling through coupons at the store. 

When customers present their Remarkable Card at checkout, coupon savings are automatically applied to the appropriate items in their shopping basket. The discounts are also shown directly on the receipt.

For grocers and manufacturers, this is a more targetable and efficient means of coupon promotion, not to mention the benefits of being able to market to consumers both in and out of the store.

Best of all, with redemption rates 5 to 40 times that of paper-based coupons, it’s highly cost-effective.

 

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria's Secret 1Victoria’s Secret is very good at keeping secrets. The retailer quietly launched a marketing initiative that uses the mobile Web and SMS text messages to promote its products and shopping on-the-go. 

Victoria’s Secret has launched a dedicated mobile Web site and is also targeting its mobile database of opted-in consumers with exclusive offers, event coverage and new product information.

“With so many consumers (94 Million in the U.S.) using their handhelds to read email, search for products (9 percent of Google searches are now on mobile devcies) and browse Web sites, it is a basic expectation that a mobile user will have a successful experience when they visit a company’s Web site,” said Jason Taylor.

Victoria’s Secret launches mobile commerce initiatVictoria’s Secret polls site visitors

Consumers can sign up for alerts on the mobile site at http://mobile.victoriassecret.com or text the keyword START to the short code 26435 (ANGEL).

All text message communication with consumers will include a link to the mobile site, in an effort to drive users there.

The Victoria’s Secret mobile site features different categories and shopping bags. The main menu gives site visitors a list of the “Most Wanted Bras.”

Victoria’s Secret launches mobile commerce initiatBrowse through products

Gift cards can be bought right from the mobile site and consumers are able to locate and map the closest Victoria’s Secret store to them.

What’s most impressive about the site is that women can actually browse and then buy products right from their mobile phones, with the same secure settings that the retailer’s Web site provides.

Customers that make purchases on the mobile site can come back to view their order status.

Additionally, the mobile site has a ‘special offers’ section where consumers can get discounts.

For example, consumers that place an order of $100 or more can use the code VSFRSHIP at checkout and all shipping and handling charges will automatically be deducted after the offer code is applied.

The mobile phone becomes much like a shopping assistant with the Victoria’s Secret mobile site.

In fact, users can even browse the print catalog and order using their mobile phone.

Victoria’s Secret went a little further with its mobile site and turned it into a great place for consumers trying to get their loved ones a gift. The mobile site doesn’t just showcase lingerie; it offers other products and services as well.

Additionally, the mobile site has a click-to-call feature that connects consumers with Victoria’s Secret customer service, should they need to actually speak with someone.

Another interesting feature on the site is the “Site Feedback” link.

Users that click on it are asked to take the Victoria’s Secret Mobile Site Survey, where they are asked some questions regarding the site and how well it works.

The site is full of pictures of various products from Victoria’s Secret and consumers can view what’s on sale and the most wanted stuff.

 

Procter & Gamble / Gillette

Procter & Gamble’s Gillette razor and blade brand is shaving away traditional marketing by using the iPhone as a means of communicating with its audience of male consumers.

Gillette has launched “uArt,” an iPhone application that lets consumers use the Gillette Fusion razor to shave and create any facial hairstyle they like. Consumers just upload their picture, choose a facial hair texture, length and color, and then start shaving.

“As a grooming company, we want to help guys be their best and to achieve that, we want to provide tools to help them find the look and style that is right for them so they can express themselves,” said Mike Norton, director of external relations at Gillette, Boston.

P&G is one of the leading consumer packaged goods manufacturers whose portfolio includes brands such as Tide, Iams, Pringle, Oral-B, Charmin, Pampers, Old Spice, Dawn, Camay, Tampax and Clairol.

Gillette is a brand of P&G currently used for safety razors among other personal hygiene products. P&G bought Gillette in 2005.

P&G's Gillette talks to men via iPhoneMake yourself beard

To shave using the uArt application, consumers just need to use their finger to guide the razor easily over the beard.

Users can create a chinstrap, handlebar, moustache, lamb chops and even design a totally new facial hairstyle.

By double-tapping, the user can get incredible shaving detail.

P&G's Gillette talks to men via iPhoneTry out different facial hairstyles

The application is geared towards males ages 15–34. It is being promoted via online marketing.

This isn’t the first time that Gillette has relied on the mobile channel to target its audience. The grooming brand used mobile for some other promotional programs.

Most recently, Gillette recently completed a program with New York Yankee superstar Derek Jeter where consumers could send in a text and be eligible to win a free Gillette Fusion Razor.

Gillette’s use of mobile is in keeping with evolving consumer habits. 

“The Gillette audience is doing more than watching TV or sitting in front of a computer — they are active and moving,” Mr. Norton said. “The app helps guys explore and achieve the look and style that is right for them. 

“Guys can interact with the brand through a medium in which they are most engaged,” he said. “Mobile is a big part of guys’ lives.  It’s a great medium.  It’s personal and guys spend a lot of time using their mobile devices. 

“Brands have the opportunity to reach their audience through entertaining interactive apps that deliver a message.”

 

Sherwin Williams

Sherwin Williams 3Paint and coating producer Sherwin-Williams Co. is using the mobile channel for branding and customer acquisition.

The company and its mobile marketing provider created an iPhone application that lets users isolate a color within any photo taken on their iPhone and get matching Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with a coordinating palette to complement their choice. The application is called ColorSnap.

“Our desire is to meet our consumers exactly where they are,” said Ellen Moreau, vice president of marketing communication at Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland, OH. “ColorSnap helps them capture inspiration as it strikes.

“The app not only makes it simple to determine the color, but to bring it home by easily locating one of our 3,300 stores,” she said.

ColorSnap was downloaded by thousands of users in more than 60 countries within the first week of its release. The application is ranked No. 35 out of 3,000 in the free utilities application category in the iPhone App Store.  

Sherwin-Williams taps mobile to reach younger demoColor Palette

The ColorSnap application is unique because it lets users capture a new photo the moment they feel inspired, whether within the application or using an image already stored in their iPhone photo library.

Then, consumers just user their finger to scroll around the image and locate the exact color they’d like to see matched.

ColorSnap immediately offers the closest matching Sherwin-Williams paint color and a coordinating palette.

Sherwin-Williams taps mobile to reach younger demoClick-to-call

“Choosing color is the hardest part of redecorating,” Ms. Moreau said. “Inspiration can hit a consumer anywhere and we are helping them bring the colors that appeal to home from wherever they may be.”

Users are able to find the nearest Sherwin-Williams store to begin their painting project. Or, they can save the color into “My Saved Colors” for continued reference.

Using iPhone GPS capability or ZIP code entry, users can find their local Sherwin-Williams store.  Users can direct dial or map the Sherwin-Williams location all within the application.

Colors include RGB values for architectural design professionals and Photoshop fiends, making it easy to recreate the colors in renderings.

The application is geared towards home owners, architects and designers and painting contractors. Sherwin Williams chose mobile because the company is trying to reach a younger demographic.

“Mobile is the ideal channel for this type of offering because inspiration is anywhere,” Ms. Moreau said. “We are trying to make it easy for customers to shop and buy paint.”

Sherwin-Williams has tested mobile advertising in the past. However this is the company’s first iPhone application.

 

Heinekin

By Giselle Tsirulnik; June 10, 2009

Heineken taps mobile for multichannel promotionText GREEN to short code 49737

Heineken and Heineken Light are using mobile as part of multichannel effort to get consumers to stock up on the beer this summer.

The program will run from June -August in retail outlets nationwide and invites consumers to elevate their traditional summer entertaining by hosting a Heineken “Blok” Party. The mobile component asks consumers to enter to win a sweepstakes by texting GREEN to short code 49737.    

“The Heineken ‘Blok’ Party program is true to our brand objective of delivering great beer and great experiences,” said Breege Murphy, channel manager at Heineken, White Plains, NY. “And it offers our retail partners a unique new way to generate excitement among consumers through engaging displays and in-store merchandising materials that will help drive purchase of Heineken and Heineken Light.”

 The sweepstakes will select two winners randomly on July 31.

These individuals will win a block party for no more than 50 guests who are over the age of 21.

The “Blok” Party prize includes live entertainment, top-notch catering and interactive leisure sports, giving them the ultimate “Blok” Party experience to be held in his or her neighborhood on or near Labor Day.  The retail value of each party is approximately $50,000.

Contestants can win 59,000 song downloads from the EMusic store.

Winners get their download codes via SMS if they entered the sweepstakes using the channel.

The “Blok Party” sweepstakes is being promoted in liquor stores via advertising which encourages consumers to stock up for summer entertaining at home.

The sweepstakes will also be promoted in supermarkets via cross merchandising offers on party essentials and unique party tips for creating the ultimate “Blok” Party experience.

In-store signage will tell consumers that that the ultimate “Blok” Party can be elevated with Heineken. 

Heineken has used mobile before.

The brewer ran a mobile campaign in which it distributed scratch-cards to bar customers. All the scratch-cards asked consumers to text message a keyword to a short code.

Each time a consumer texted in, they were entered to win different prizes. Whether the customer won or not, he or she was opted in to receive a WAP push with Heineken mobile agenda. 

This wasn’t the first time that a brewer turned to mobile for a promotion.

Irish brewer Guinness held “The Great Guinness Pint Contest,” an interactive mobile program meant to engage consumers with the brand.

The program asked consumers at participating businesses to rate their pint of Guinness via their mobile phone. Each time consumers rated their pint they were entered into a sweepstakes in which five winners received a trip for two to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland, during the company’s 250th anniversary (see story).

“Through a wide range of elements including a consumer sweepstakes for the ultimate ‘Blok’ Party and cross merchandising offers, the program inspires consumers to make the most of every celebration by choosing the ultimate imported beer brand – Heineken,” Ms. Murphy said.

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If you are interested in exploring Mobile Marketing strategies for your firm, you can begin by visiting our website for more information or contacting us via our website or email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

Tips for Using Twitter to Grow Your Business June 10, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Social Media, Twitter.
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twitter_logo_headerOne of the most effective promotional resources a small business owner has at his or her disposal today is Social Media.  And while that medium is comprised of many different tools, one that has leaped to the forefront is Twitter.  This ‘micro-blog’ tool has been embraced by major corporations, national news organizations, government, small business owners and individuals, and has shown itself to be an extremely valuable tool for sharing information in a timely, accurate, and profitable manner.

As small business owners, it makes sense to insure that your firm has developed a social media strategy in which Twitter plays a substantial role.  A recent article by Ploked.com provides an excellent step-by-step approach for getting started, and for maximizing your results.

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by Ploked.com 5/19/09

Whether you love the concept of Twitter, or hate the idea of it, if your business is not taking advantage of this opportunity, you are only hurting yourself. Yes, Twitter may not be a marketing method right for every type of business, but at the very least you should explore the potential Twitter opportunity.

Twitter is a great resource for smaller or sole proprietorship businesses to get exposure on a world-wide level with a minimal investment (time). While you may be timid to jump into Twitter pool with your business, don’t worry, everything will be ok…there are lifeguards nearby to help you out should you get in trouble.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to establishing your business brand on Twitter:

  1. Complete your Twitter profile by filling out the various information it asks for. It can help give a good overview to your followers of what you and your company is about.
  2. Brand your profile with a custom Twitter background so that you stand out from the crowd. Custom backgrounds are a great way to establish your brand among your followers.
  3. If you are the sole proprietor or face of the company, you can add a more personal touch to your Twitter profile with a picture of you. However, should you want to use your company logo that is ok as well since it helps establish your brand.
  4. Add your Twitter link to your business cards. This can serve as a great offline conversation starter with potential clients and customers.
  5. Find other Twitter users who are interested in your niche or products. To do this, simply head on over to the good old twitter search.
  6. Be efficient with your daily Twitter use. Although it may be difficult, try to not to spend the entire workday on Twitter. It can distract you from more important business matters. Try designating an allocated amount of time, or a certain time each day where you login to Twitter.
  7. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (or girl). Just because it is a “business” related Twitter account does not mean that you can only talk about business related topics. If possible, try to mix in a bit of info about you so that your followers can learn a bit more about you. Who knows, you may find out you have more in common with your followers than just business.
  8. Do your best to reply to anyone who replies to your tweets or posts an @yourname. While this may not always be possible, it can definitely strengthen the relationship between you and your followers.
  9. Thank users who retweet one of your tweets. Be sure to retweet others when possible.
  10. Create surveys or ask questions to your followers about your products and services. This can be both good and bad, so be ready for honest responses.
  11. Follow the leaders in your industry. If there is not a defined Twitter leader for your niche, now is the time to step up and grab it for yourself.
  12. Provide free insight and help on Twitter. The vast majority of Twitter users do not appreciate being hounded to buy your product or services. However, should you be known to help out others, chances are your goodwill can result in future business.
  13. Track your Twitter referrals to your website. Google Analytics is one great free source to analyze and track your website traffic. Aside from tracking the traffic from Twitter, Google Analytics can provide you with some very useful info about your site.
  14. Share beneficial and relevant information with your followers. Whether it is industry related news, or information about a new service your company offers; sharing great content is king. Please note, that you don’t need to tweet about what you had for lunch today.
  15. Invite your employees to create an account and take part in Twitter. This can not only help ease the workload for yourself, it can also help increase your brand and company awareness on Twitter.
  16. Monitor your brand. There are a few ways to do this so you can keep on top of what others are saying about your business. One of the easiest is to use Twitter Search and type in your business name. Then simply grab the RSS link for the results and paste it into your favorite RSS reader.  You can then be aware of what is being said about your name on Twitter.

Small Businesses Participate In and Benefit From Social Networking in Increasing Numbers June 6, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in FaceBook, Marketing Plan, Social Media, Twitter.
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Small business owners have always been among the strongest of networkers, and today’s new technology networking options have only increased their efforts as the economic downturn continues to drive laid-off workers toward self-employment and small business ownership.  A recent article by the New York Times discusses the increasing involvement of small business owners in social networking, and the positive effects being experienced by those companies.

After reading the article, if you would like assistance in developing a social media strategy for your firm, please feel free to contact us at our website or via email at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com .

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by:  Mickey Meece, New York Times, June 3, 2009

BY choice or necessity, successful small-business owners are earnest networkers, gladly shaking hands, handing out cards and attending local meetings to find and keep customers, solve problems, seek feedback or support and bolster their bottom lines. 

Now, the Internet is starting to upend those long-established methods; online networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and newer niche sites can be instantaneous and far-reaching.

The sites are efficient and free, which is especially important in an economic downturn, as owners scramble for new customers, said Rob King, vice president for strategic marketing at Sage North America, a unit of Sage P.L.C., a global supplier of business management software and services.

Fast, free and efficient — those attributes appealed to Brighter Planet, a socially responsible start-up based in Vermont, which built social networking into its DNA.

“There’s almost a grass-roots quality to it,” said Patti Prairie, its chief executive. “As a start-up, we can’t afford to be buying ads anywhere. We have to use our outreach.”

For more than a year, the Brighter Planet team has been blogging, Tweeting, friending on Facebook and initiating viral marketing campaigns intended to help consumers reduce their carbon footprints.

While most small businesses have not yet embraced social networks as Brighter Planet has, their numbers are growing. According to the April index of Discover Small Business Watch, compiled by Discover Financial Services, 38 percent of owners were a member of an online social networking community, up from 22 percent in October 2007.

Charles H. Matthews, president of the International Council for Small Business, said the key was to view the sites as tools, not toys. “It can certainly help enhance the process of identifying customers, especially in niche markets.”

For Brighter Planet, the niche is the environment. Before Earth Day, for example, it sponsored Earthtweet, an Earth Day Tweet-a-Thon, which has generated 4,200 conservation Tweets and 2,500 followers.

Soon, BrighterPlanet.com will feature a portable social Web application that will allow visitors to calculate the status of their carbon footprints and share what they are doing on conservation on other social platforms like Facebook.

Friends, family and colleagues can immediately see how saving the environment is important to BrighterPlanet members, Ms. Prairie said. “That’s what we find is the beauty of social networking, particularly for environmental-type causes.”

A recent study for Sage North America found that 65 percent of small businesses that used social networking sites said that they felt more comfortable doing so this year than they did last year, and 51 percent said that they had acquired and retained customers because of it.

More than 260,000 North American businesses currently use social networking to promote their businesses, Mr. King said.

In April, Sage, which has 2.9 million small and midsize business customers, introduced its own networking site, SageSpark .com. “We know we’re not the first to the game,” Mr. King said. “Our twist really is the community, tools and services.”

Other niche sites have sprouted recently, like Shustir.com.

Last week, Shustir.com introduced its virtual marketplace, which was started by two former Lehman Brothers colleagues, Shu Kim and Khanh Pham. “It matters where you spend,” Ms. Kim said, echoing the site’s catchphrase. The goal, they said, is to keep Main Street U.S.A. alive.

“We want you to spend with small businesses,” Ms. Pham said. “By doing so, 80 percent of the money goes directly back to the community.”

The site is arranged so owners can create virtual storefronts with photos, video, blogs and store information, and communicate with customers.

“Shustir gives consumers a one-stop destination,” Ms. Kim said, where they can buy from trusted businesses, post about their favorite shops and make recommendations.

Businesses can exchange advice, ideas and information, and network on a site that provides them search optimization.

In its second phase, Shustir will add Facebook and Twitter badges so owners can use other social media to build business. There will also be a shared community calendar. “The call to localism is existing across the country,” Ms. Pham said, “because small business is suffering.”

PartnerUp has been around longer. It is a social networking site that helps entrepreneurs and small-businesses owners find partners or co-founders, network, ask for and offer up advice, find resources and create or join groups based on their interests. It was founded in 2005 and acquired by the Deluxe Corporation in 2008.

PartnerUp has more than 100,000 active members, and more than 300,000 unique business owners and entrepreneurs come to the site every month, according to Steve Nielsen, its president.

“We’re at an inflection point now,” Mr. Nielsen said, “where social media sites that are specific to a purpose for a market are going mainstream, and they’re not just for early adopters any more.”

In late 2007, David Reinke joined PartnerUp for a specific purpose. He had quit corporate America to start a fashion rating Web site, StyleHop.com, but needed a partner well versed in technology. He posted a profile on PartnerUp, and a job description for a chief technology officer and said, “Let’s see what happens.”

About a month later, Froilan Mendoza, who had 12 years experience building technology start-ups, contacted him and after a series of discussions, Mr. Mendoza quit his job to become chief technology officer of StyleHop.com.

Turning to PartnerUp, Mr. Reinke said, was consistent with how he uses online sites. “I was looking for something specific. I go to the source where the experts are,” Mr. Reinke said. PartnerUp also allowed for a quiet search and limited exposure, he added, so thousands of people would not know about his start-up.

To be sure, the majority of smaller concerns have not caught the online wave. In its monthly index, Discover noted that 62 percent of businesses still do not have Web sites.

What’s more, when asked which networking opportunities they used most, 46 percent of small-business owners identified traditional methods like conferences, trade shows, local in-person groups or chambers of commerce. Of the remaining respondents, 16 percent cited “other” networking opportunities, 8 percent cited online sites, 7 percent said e-mail messages and 22 percent said they were not sure.

Mr. King of Sage North America estimates that small businesses have a 12-month window to figure out online social networking. “I hate to say it, but if they don’t, they’ll get left in the dust,” he said. “It’s here to stay.”

Global New Media Trends and Using Them to Grow Your Business May 8, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, mobile, Mobile Marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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A recent report issued by The Nielsen Company, a global information and media company active in more than 100 countries, provides a comprehensive overview of the status of new media in today’s marketing environment.  Some highlights of the report include:

  • Online display advertising’s share of revenue has plateaued at 20% of total online ad spend in the U.S.
  • Despite online video’s persistent positive buzz, actual usage is averaging around six minutes per day in the U.S.
  • Packaged goods manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and telecommunications firms, three of the largest historical spenders on traditional media, are moving online at a pace we haven’t seen before, even as the recession continues to deepen.
  • Access to social networking sites via mobile devices almost tripled during 2008, largely due to rising smartphone penetration and improved network speeds.  Increasingly consumers are turning to their phones for a wide range of online content.
  • The pace of new online users has significantly slowed down, and the story has become about how much time people are spending online and what they’re doing while there.
  • Americans spend the most time online during the average month (about 2 hours per day).
  • The U.S. online population skews more to the age 50+ than the other countries listed in the study.
  • It is rare to see segments grow from BOTH an audience and an engagement standpoint, but we are seeing exceptional growth in these areas over the last couple of years in both video and social media sites.
  • While Member Communities (Facebook, MySpace, etc) have been garnering impressive audience numbers for the last five years, video audiences have been growing at meteoric rates.
  • From a time spent perspective, Member Communities surpassed email for the first time in February 2009.
  • From February 2008 to February 2009, the viewers of online videos grew 10%, the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
  • The reach of Member Community (social networking) sites is highest in Brazil (80%) but growting fastest in Germany (from 39% to 51% in one year).
  • The steady upward march of micro-blogging site Twitter will likely be the biggest online media story this year.
  • In the U.S., the mobile Internet audience grew 74% between February 2007 and February 2009.
  • More than 12 million U.S. mobile subscribers access their social networks over their phone.
  • As consumers look to do more on their phones while maintaining or perhaps decreasing their overall wireless spend, we expect that consumers will continue to warm to the idea of ad-supported mobile content.

This information is extremely valuable to marketers and small business owners as it enables companies to see areas of tremendous opportunity where they can maximize their firm’s brand awareness among target audiences.  Click HERE to review the complete Nielsen report and determine how it can be utilized to your company’s benefit.  Should you need assistance sorting thru the options to develop the best marketing strategy for your firm, please contact us to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

Video Marketing; A Great Way to Showcase Your Business April 23, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Video Marketing, Web 2.0.
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In today’s Web 2.0 marketplace small business owners are learning to take advantage of every new technology tool they can find to grow their business. One of the least understood tools is Video Marketing. In this week’s episode of our BlogTalkRadio program ‘Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business’, our panel of experts explains how you can utilize Video marketing to grow your business, and how you can achieve this extremely cost-effectively. If you’re seeking new ways to market your business in the Web 2.0 environment, this is the show for you. Our panel of experts includes: Tim Tevlin, President of Local Business Videos Online; Greg George, Founder of iVideo Makers; and Bob Sullivan, Development Director of Think Creative Media Works.

Click HERE to listen to the complete broadcast!

MARKETING YOUR COMPANY VIA MOBILE April 6, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in email marketing, mobile, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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As with all small businesses, I am always researching to find additional ways of promoting my company to increase my customer base.  However, given my personal business background in the wireless industry I have become a strong proponent of mobile marketing and see it as “the next internet” if you will.  Therefore I’m putting in place several items that I believe will be of interest to those looking for newer, cost-effective methods of marketing their business.

First, I’ve gone on the search for as much information on mobile marketing as I can find since my familiarity with it provides me with enough knowledge to know that even experienced marketers are going to need some training.  They’ll need education in the various methods of mobile marketing, how those methods work, what they cost, and which method will be most effective for reaching their particular target audience.  As a source that small businesses turn to for information, I want to be able to provide that information  in an easy-to-understand way, so over the next few weeks I will be developing a series of blog posts that focus on different aspects of mobile marketing to help make it easier for the average small business owner or marketing practitioner to understand.

Second, I have scheduled a panel discussion with a group of mobile marketing experts on an upcoming segment of my BlogTalkRadio show, ‘Strategic Marketing Concepts for Small Business’.  This segment will air on Tuesday, April 14th at 2:30 p.m. EDT.  Panel members are still being finalized so more information on this will be provided within the next few days, however, let me assure you I am VERY excited about the experts that have offered to participate as they are some of the industry’s leading experts – and I’m quite confident that listeners will leave the broadcast with a great deal of useful information.

Third, I found an interesting mobile tool and decided to try it out.  There is an online program by the name of Mofuse (which can be found at www.mofuse.com) that will take your existing blog and convert it to a mobile-compliant site so it can be more easily viewed on cellphones – and it’s FREE!  Therefore, I have taken each of my blogs and entered them into the system to try out the program.  They can be viewed at the following mobile web addresses:  http://strategicgrowth.mofuse.mobi and http://hrconcepts.mofuse.mobi and http://marketingwithnewtechnology.mofuse.mobi .  You can either access them at these addresses directly from your cell, or you can enter the addresses into the web where you will be brought to a page on which you can enter your cell phone number and have the site sent to your phone via text message.  The idea I’m pursuing is making blogs easier to read from wherever you are, thereby increasing the small business owner’s access to potential customers.  Have a look at the blogs via mobile and let me know what you think!

As we delve deeper into the topic of mobile advertising over the course of the next few weeks, I am confident that many of you will be intrigued by the wide variety of ways in which mobile marketing can be utilized to promote your business.  Today, it’s cutting edge stuff; tomorrow, it will become as standard to us as email is today.  So if you’ve ever chastised yourself for waiting too long to take advantage of new technology in promoting your business, follow with us over the next several weeks and this time, be one of the first instead of one of the last!

For additional information on Mobile Marketing, or to learn how we can help you develop a Mobile Marketing campaign for your firm, please contact us via our website or email us at info@strategicgrowthconcepts.com

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 Strategic Growth Concepts is a Detroit-based firm that provides training and consulting services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses in the areas of Start-up, Marketing, Operations, HR and Strategic Planning.  The firm’s CEO, Linda Daichendt is a recognized business expert with 20+ years of corporate, small business and franchising experience.  Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com , and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

FREE Marketing Plan Give-a-Way for Small Businesses; $8500 Grand Prize Value April 4, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in Marketing Plan, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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Small business owners across the U.S. have the opportunity to win a comprehensive Strategic Marketing Plan for their business prepared by consulting firm, Strategic Growth Concepts of Southfield, MI.  Strategic is sponsoring this national contest, being promoted primarily via Web 2.0 technology and social media, as part of their efforts in support of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s upcoming National Small Business Week celebration.

Contestants can enter the contest via Strategic’s website at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com where they complete an online entry form, including essays about their business and why a Marketing Plan will benefit their company.  Contest entrants have the opportunity to win the grand prize, a Strategic Marketing Plan designed to help the firm effectively market themselves to prospective customers and achieve increased sales (approximate value $8,500), or one of five secondary prizes, 2 hours of small business consulting per winner (approximate value $470 per winner). Entries can be submitted thru April 30, 2009, with winners being announced during National Small Business Week, May 17 – 19, 2009.

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Strategic Growth Concepts is a Detroit-based firm that provides training and consulting services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses in the areas of Start-up, Marketing, Operations, HR and Strategic Planning.  The firm’s CEO, Linda Daichendt is a recognized business expert with 20+ years of corporate, small business and franchising experience.  Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com , and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.